Two years ago, the economy hit Jim Tibbs who was laid off from his job with an apparel company. He and partner Philip Anderson decided to join forces at the firm Anderson had founded more than 20 years earlier, and the partnership has excelled, due largely to setting clear, realistic expectations.

Though founded as a handyman service, these days 75% of  HDR’s volume comes from design/build remodeling, with home maintenance acting as a value-added service. The big push toward design/build came two years ago, and the company’s marketing focuses on the 800 loyal customers who have recently used its home maintenance service.

Profit slippage has declined since the company started holding weekly project meetings. Leads are given gross-profit-to-date and estimated-cost-to-complete numbers and are required to re-forecast the numbers each week, enabling them to “course correct or come up with solutions while they can still impact the outcome,” Tibbs says.